Monthly Archives: May 2014

Back to Thailand: Floating Market, Bridge over River Kwai and Tiger Temple

Right now I am in Kathmandu. I have been here in Nepal for several weeks already. The previous post on this blog deals with adventures in Vanuatu. In between Vanuatu and Nepal I crossed a few other countries. It sounds like a lot, but in truth the delay of my blog compared to my real time physical movements is not that large nowadays. The only large chapter that I had to skip for now is the one that deals with Australia. In fact I went there twice on my trip: first time for about a month after Indonesia and before New Zealand; and second time now after Vanuatu I stayed in Brisbane for about a week. I guess I will come back to Austalia at some later point in this blog when I have a little more time, but for now I will press on with the trip as it developed after Vanuatu.

From Port Vila I flew to Brisbane and from there on, changing in Singapore, I arrived back to my beloved Bangkok. I stayed there for about a week, did a lot of stuff there, reading books, planning my trip from there on, exploring the various hidden parts of the city – but it is difficult to report on this in a photo blog. One day I decided to play tourist and went for a day long tour of three famous tourist attractions situated to the West of BKK. This post is about that visit.

Attraction nr 1: the famous Floating Market
Strange as it may seem, in my many visits to Bangkok I’d never mastered the time to get acquainted with this quintessential Thai institution. There are several floating markets around Bangkok, this one being the most popular and the most touristic one. Frankly all of the stalls facing the waterfront are meant for tourists. And yet it is by all means a picturesque and involving spectacle.

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Vanuatu: a tour around Efate

You can circle the island of Efate in only several hours. A number of companies organise day tours that do just that. I departed with the one that promised the most stops and I wasn’t disappointed, as also the guide turned to be about the friendliest person I’ve ever met.

The first stop was in the Blue Lagoon – yes, Vanuatu has one of its own! Magical fresh water, into which you can jump using the long rope strategically placed for that purpose. Young and old (that’s us!) used the opportunity!

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Vanuatu: Port-Vila, Mele Cascades and parasailing

Right now I am in Kathmandu. Still I will continue publishing the stories about my trip in the order that they happened, even though I am now about a month late. Today I will write about the visit to the island state of Vanuatu.

Quite frankly when I bought a ticket to Vanuatu my knowledge about this country was rather limited. This was one reason I decided to visit it: in addition to Fiji, I wanted to check out some lesser known and perhaps more exotic corner of Melanesia. Logistically too Vanuatu lies conveniently between Fiji and Australia and is connected by frequent flights to either side. Actually as I was buying the ticket I was hatching some other even more crazy plans – Vanuatu is also connected for example to Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. But the nasty Fijian border guards destroyed these plans as they forced me to buy my connection to Australia right in the airport.

Like Fiji, Vanuatu is an archipelago that consists of hundreds of islands hundreds of kilometres in every direction. Contrary to Fiji, Vanuatu does not have one central dominant island. In fact several islands of approximately the same size are surrounded by many smaller ones. When Vanuatu gained independence, several islands even tried to declare their own independence – but the uprising from central authority was finally put down. The capital Port-Vila is on the island of Efate, more or less in the middle of the archipelago. Any touristic infrastructure is concentrated on Efate, the other islands have no hotels to speak of and are difficult to reach – in practice you have to fly as the distances are significant. My visit was therefore limited to Efate.

I arrived in Port-Vila late Saturday night and quickly realised that on Sunday most places in this very religious place would be closed. Therefore the next day I took a quick stroll around the capital and followed the advice of the owner of my hotel to visit the Mele Cascades, perhaps the number one attraction on Efate.

On the road leading out of the city I caught the first empty minibus – they are all ready to take a passenger – and bargained the price of 300 vatu (3 dollars) to take me to Mele. The minibus then picked up one more passenger, a Singaporean named Li, who was heading in the same direction. Li was stranded in Vanuatu because there was a hurricane in his main destination – Solomon Islands – and the flights were cancelled. He turned out to be a crazy traveller like myself and so we visited the Mele Cascades together.

A long walk leads to the Cascades from the Mele village. The path weaves along a mountain stream that forms small cascades all the time:

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